Monday, May 12, 2008

‘Joint effort needed’ to strengthen tobacco law

A TOTAL of 52 participants including mall managers, restaurant and hotel managers, health professionals, legal experts, law enforcement agents and government officials recently attended a National Health Authority’s (NHA) workshop on Tobacco Law number 20 of 2002.
Penalties for violating the law include fines of up to QR5,000, closure of establishment which violates the law and jail of up to six months.
The aim of the workshop, which is one of the activities lined up for the commemoration of the ‘World No Tobacco Day’ was to discuss how to improve the implementation of the law among other things.
The theme for the year is ‘Tobacco-Free Youth’.
The director of the Public health at the NHA, Dr Gail Fraser Chanpong, who declared open the workshop, said that tobacco is a major public health problem in the community and that urgent cigarettes control efforts are needed.
Prof Ravinder Mamtani of the Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar discussed the effects of tobacco and highlighted its effects, including cancer and heart diseases.
“Globally, tobacco kills approximately 5.4mn people annually, that is, one person every six seconds,” he said.
Legal expert at the NHA Asmaa Abdel Halim highlighted parts of the law and also discussed how it organises and controls tobacco sale and smoking in public places.
She stressed the importance of collaboration between all governmental agencies, families, educational institutions and others to reach the goals set by the country.
Head of the Non-communicable Diseases section Adenike Ajani said legislation is one of many strategies that can be used for tobacco control, especially because of its special consideration for the youths.
She added that the law prohibits the sale of tobacco to minors and advertisement that may encourage its use among youths.
Ajani noted that tobacco in the law refers to all kinds of products including water-pipe (sheesha) and chewing tobacco (suwaikah), while adding that there is no safe form of tobacco.
Major Hamad al-Ansari of the Ministry of Interior said that law enforcement officials will continue to support the cigarettes control efforts of the NHA, adding that official channels of collaboration need to be established to strengthen the role of the police officers in the tobacco control.